N.J. AIDS advocates concerned over budget plan

    New Jersey’s lawmakers are busy hammering out a state spending plan that slashes funds for dozens of programs. The state’s AIDS division is one of those that actually will see an increased budget, but AIDS advocates say the deal isn’t really that sweet.

    New Jersey’s lawmakers are busy hammering out a state spending plan that slashes funds for dozens of programs.

    The state’s AIDS division is one of those that actually will see an increased budget, but AIDS advocates say the deal isn’t really that sweet. WHYY’s Kerry Grens explains.

    Governor Chris Christie has proposed giving New Jersey’s division of AIDS a three million dollar spending increase — totaling thirty eight million dollars this year.

    The health department says the money will go to maintain services for a growing population of people seeking help.

    But that help ALSO has become more expensive and the plan cuts into a program that provides AIDS medications.

    New income requirements will force out about 600 participants who earn too much money.

    Kathy Ahearn O’Brien, the executive director of the AIDS organization Hyacinth, says those patients will suffer without help paying for expensive drugs.

    O’Brien: “As of July first, they lose it. So there’s no plan in place to help these folks figure out what to do. They go from June having their medicines, to July — guess what, you’re cut off, you no longer can take these drugs that can save your life.”

    The new eligibility rules will save about seven million dollars annually.

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